Battle Weary

I’m staring down the barrel at 3 weeks of the Roc and me togetherness.  All of his waking hours will be spent in my vicinity.  There is not a moment in the day where I can say “go play!” and off he goes.  He does not play outside alone and the little spurts of “playing alone” in our house are few and far between, and they are more like stimming sessions than playing.  I have big mixed emotions as I examine the rest of the month of June and I simply lack the words to describe the way I feel.  Then there are the feelings I have about my mixed emotions, mainly guilt swirled together with a bit of “what’s wrong with me?  Who doesn’t look forward to school breaks where they get to spend time with their kids?”

I tried to explain myself a bit to GC Sunday afternoon and he said to me “You just have to relax Kim, there are things you can do with him, won’t L and D be home?  Set up the sprinkler.”  To which I replied, “Never mind, you just don’t get it.”  And he walked away, upstairs to have a chat with the Roc about how it’s okay to get frustrated, it’s not okay to try to kick the dog…

Not the best way to communicate with your husband.  But sometimes I really lack the words to express how I feel.  Have I mentioned that yet?  And sometimes I feel that I am the only one feeling this way.  I am the only one who is “ON” 24/7, 7 days a week in our house.

I try, try, try to stay positive.  I focus on the progress, the little bits and the big jumps both make me feel like the Roc is moving uphill, at his own pace.  But sometimes it feels like we are slipping or stalling out.  I don’t know how to discipline this child.  There is nothing I can lord over his head, nothing I can take away, no threat and follow through that works.  Screaming doesn’t work, (don’t know why I still try that one out at least once a day…)  I feel like I’m missing something, some clue on what to do with this child.  How to reason or make him understand.  I’m frustrated and worn out.  Some days I’m ready to throw in the towel and the sun has barely risen.

Lately the Roc has been uber defiant.  Testing us.  Testing me the most.  Pushing my buttons.  Trying to see if he can outlast me.  Always looking for a reaction.  Never mind the negative outcome.  And he knows what he is doing.  Case in point:  I told him he couldn’t take a morning bath because there wasn’t enough time before school to which he replied, after screaming and screeching about his desire to take a bath, “I will keep asking until you let me.”  Who is this child?  Of course on one hand GC and I celebrated the new found push for independence, the “typicality” of his recent attitude change complete with some new use of language.  We would look at each other in surprise at the dinner table in response to some sassy retort from the Roc.  Thoughts flashed between us, “did you hear that?”  “the sentence structure!”  “the appropriate tone of voice!”  “how funny!”  “try not to laugh, it will only make it worse!”  But it was only funny for a few days, we aren’t laughing anymore.

We have been having major bedtime battles.  This boy who would do x, y, z, in that order, used to go off to bed without a peep.  After the last story had been read I would slide out of his room with a “Goodnight, I love you, I’ll see you in the morning,” gently close the door, wipe my brow, take a deep breath, and get on with my evening.  My time.  Now he throws out every excuse he can come up with to stall bedtime.  “I have to go potty!”  “I want to play!”  “It’s too dark in here!”  “I’m hungry!”  “My tummy hurts, I need a snack!”  “Mommy, I want to talk to you!”  “Mommy, I NEED to talk to you!”  “I need water!”  “NO, not in a cup!  In my water bottle!”  “I’m going downstairs!”  “I am the adult and you are the child!”  “You can’t make me!”  “Hey, don’t tell me what to do!”  And on and on.  He completely defies us when we tell him he has to go to bed, he comes right out of his room and runs around.  We won’t chase him but he runs if we look in his direction.  He says he will go to the bathroom and then climbs on his rocking horse.  We put him back in his room, he comes right back out.  He screeches and screams and writhes on the floor as we try in vain to get him to bed.  7:30 bedtime has stretched to after 10 pm most nights.  That sass that started at the dinner table?  Not so cute anymore.

But it’s not just at bedtime or the dinner table where we are battling.  Everything is a battle.  Anything he dislikes in the slightest is cause for a battle complete with guttural screeching, screaming, tomato red face, and foot stomping.  It’s maddening and so wearing.

We tried using the happy/frowny face slips his teacher used at the beginning of the year.  We threaten with no dessert or no pool, but have to be careful that those things aren’t too far away time wise, or they hold no value.  I pulled out his picture schedule to plan our days and he’s been using it religiously.  Though now instead of just following the schedule, he will take off the “go to the bus stop” and “go to school” pictures and put them away telling me that he doesn’t have to go to school.  Very crafty indeed, but it doesn’t work that way kid!  We have been ignoring some of the things he does just for a reaction in hopes that he will tone it down if he doesn’t get a reaction, all the while reassuring each other that “this too shall pass.”

Please tell me it will.

Please, oh please, oh please…let this be a phase.  A developmental milestone he’s hitting 2-3 years late.


I am almost out of resources.


14 thoughts on “Battle Weary

  1. Oh, Kim! I so hear you on feeling like you’re the only one “ON” 24/7. It is utterly exhausting.

    I’ll spare you the platitudes about how the Roc must feel so safe with you & GC to push those limits, etc. While it may be true, it doesn’t do a damn thing about the mounting frustration and exhaustion.

    Do you use things like sticker charts or visual timers with him? Would it help to give him something he really wants as a goal to work toward and reward him for the good behavior?

    I’m kind of thinking out loud here; I suspect I’ll be up against this in the not-too-distant future.

    Hugs. BIG hugs.

  2. Kim – I’m thinking of you! And I hope these next couple of weeks fly by for you with minimal stress. Wish you were here, the older kids like to play ‘mother hen’ and I’m sure they could occupy him for a little bit!

    Love the fishing and the horse show shots. Exciting!

  3. It will pass. I can’t promise it won’t pass into something more irritating, but it will pass. I know this because the Roc is C’s younger twin and we’ve been there too. It still rears its ugly head more often than I’d like, but it’s not as constant.

    I’ve probably said it before, but we had a very wise OT once who said that these kids like ours simply do not understand why they are not in charge or at least why they aren’t our “peers” in rule-making. It helps a little bit for me to realize that he doesn’t have ODD, but rather “I’m so smart I should be in charge” disorder.

    Do whatever you can to get through this. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Drink wine, put on your headphones, and ignore. Keep trying to find that magic bullet of what motivates him.

    Hang in there, friend. It’s a stupid thing to say and doesn’t help at all, but I have to say it. 😛

  4. I could have written this myself, especially the sleep part. Our 4 1/2 year old son does the same thing. And he is out of preschool until september, with me all day. I don’t have any answers, but you’re not alone.

  5. I get this 100% completely. I’m living it as well.

    One thing I’ve done lately with some success (can’t say huge whopping success, but *some*) is I have a sticker chart and the girls get a sticker at lunch for not fighting in the morning, at dinner if there’s no fighting between lunch and dinner, and then another sticker at bedtime if there’s no fighting after dinner. I broke it up like that because I wanted them to feel like they were being successful. It’s been interesting learning for me too (they always get their lunch sticker, but dinner and bedtime one is hit or miss, usually miss).

    Another thing before that that I did with Charlotte was she got a sticker for not arguing with Mommy. Now, understand that Charlotte JUST FINALLY got the concept of sticker chart and rewards. Before that -I was like you -disciplining her was tough tough tough because she didn’t care.

    Anyway- I agree with Darcy that this will pass. It always passes and then we’ll be on to something new.

    Hang in there and try to take a break here and there to recharge!

  6. Um, yes. It will pass. (And then there will be something else, but forget about that for now…)

    I often find that in these horrible interludes of extreme defiance and button-pushing, that encouragement and praise works better than anything that involves “taking away”. For example, why not pick one thing: bedtime. Write it down: put on jammies, brush teeth, go potty, get in bed. Give him tons of positive feedback and praise for completing each step. A little bit of “I don’t believe you can do that all by yourself…” works really well in our house. Sometimes just turning the negative stuff into a positive thing is enough to shake their little brains into a new groove…

    Good luck. Keep us posted. And go easy on yourself.

  7. Hang in there Kim, I wish there was a way i could help. When you are down here I would be happy to take the Roc so you guys can have some time alone at the beach or where ever you want to go.

  8. “Then there are the feelings I have about my mixed emotions, mainly guilt swirled together with a bit of “what’s wrong with me? Who doesn’t look forward to school breaks where they get to spend time with their kids?”


    People like us.

    You are not alone.

  9. I know that 24/7 exhaustion. I know the mixed emotions swirled with guilt about not looking forward to school breaks. You are definitely NOT alone. Thinking of you and hoping that this stage passes for you soon.

  10. As a teacher I wish there were more parents like you. You are a good mom. You are doing all the right things. Keep reminding yourself that!!!

  11. This was posted on WordPress latest, although it was June 8th: and I just wanted to post a note to say: hope all is well. I have a seven year old son – apparently everyone goes through a bit of developmental character splintering round about the six year mark, and my son Felix certainly did.
    I teach children of Roc’s age who are autistic, and it is a different ball game from mainstream teaching. It’s really hard work, and I don’t know how well I’d cope as a parent. Their outlook in life, though, is different, I find; as they grow older and you define the world and its concepts with words you both have clear understanding and vision which is often absent in other children.
    You carry his development on you shoulders, and your writing is inspiring for just that reason. Thank you for writing about this -its good to see a little frankness in the world.

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